Web Design

Why You May Not Need a Business Consultant

Nor these 9 other growth “must-haves”

Photo by    Nancy Ray

Photo by Nancy Ray

This is not one of those clickbait blog posts where I tell you that the top reasons not to hire a business coach are because “you hate making money” or “you love having too much on your plate” or anything ridiculous like that. We all know there are times when we legitimately need an outsider’s experienced perspective and help. This is about determining when that is – and when that isn’t.

The people who provide business-to-business (b2b) services have families to feed and bills to pay just like you do and their expertise is often valuable and worth the money. They deserve to be well-compensated for their work just like you do for yours. That doesn’t mean what they offer is relevant for you in every season of your business or life.

When it comes to buying new products or hiring people to help your business get unstuck, always consider who’s telling you what you "have to do" and ask yourself, "what are they really selling?"

Here are 10 things wedding pros and creative business owners often hear when it comes to improving their companies that aren’t always true:

1. “You have to work with a business consultant in order to get unstuck and grow."

Maybe you do. Maybe you don't. Sometimes the time isn’t right to bring on a consultant, no matter how good they are or how much extra cash you have on hand. And I say this as a business consultant who pays my bills by helping wedding industry leaders succeed.

I fully stand behind the insight, wisdom, experience, expertise, and results I bring to the table, but I am never going to sell you something you don’t need.

Sometimes you may just need a business-focused weekend retreat with a small group of smart colleagues you fully trust to call you out on your blind spots. Friends who truly want the best for you but aren’t attached to your business the way you are. 

2. “You need to be on most social media platforms to be relevant."

Does the person preaching this sell social media management services? Does it make sense for your business to be on Stories every day? For some companies it does, for others it doesn’t. This also depends not just on your target market age demographic but on geographic region as well. 

3. “You have to have a custom website to stand out."

Maybe you do, and for some people a fully custom website is the best option. You might also just need a well-branded Squarespace site.

If the person preaching “custom or bust” sells web design, they may genuinely believe this to be true – but they also sell custom web design and need to pay their bills.

4. “You need the latest software to maximize productivity and efficiency."

I love a good technology solution, and the latest and greatest may make your life more streamlined. It may also be a cost you don’t need to take on right now. You may just need a well-optimized Excel workbook. 

5. “You need ongoing SEO services."

You might, depending on the type of business you run. You may also just need to do the tedious, long-game work of writing a blog post several times a week so that your site has consistently new content and new keywords for Google to index. 

6. “You have to take this online course."

Maybe the course will be full of useful, specialized education and a timesaver, like the new Essential PR Field Guide course from Natalie at In Good Company PR.

Maybe you just need to download some free library books to your iPad or take a free EdX online class through MIT or Harvard.

7. “You have to rebrand every 2-3 years."

This may be the most ridiculous claim of them all, and legitimate branding experts will never pretend it is true. There may be times where you need to rebrand and refresh your identity, but that decision should be based on your company’s goals, not your graphic designer’s.

Hire an expert who understands how to design for business ROI and whose work can stand the test of time.

8. “You have to have an app for your company."

You probably don’t and, more importantly, you probably shouldn’t. An app that only regurgitates your social media feeds just eats up phone storage space and actively brands your company as one that will waste someone’s time and money. 

9. “You have to pay to join a mastermind in order to be fully emotionally invested."

Paid masterminds were the "it business" in the mid-90’s, then again in 2007, and now they're back once more. In the wedding industry, mastermind fees range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to six-figures.

There are times when a paid mastermind with strangers you’ve never met or acquaintances you barely know makes sense. That said, always consider who is telling you that a paid mastermind is the best way to get the most out of the group.

10. “You have to spend money to make money.”

This is true – to a point. Your finances are your own private business and whether or not you choose to take out a loan or charge something to a credit card is up to you.

As you’re considering your options, one major red flag is if the person selling you a b2b service or mastermind tells you that you should take on a large financial risk because you’re “betting on yourself” and “you’re worth it.”

You are worth betting on. You are also worth not allowing yourself to be emotionally manipulated into taking on unnecessary debt.

If you’re on the fence about a business purchase, get advice from people you trust who won’t benefit financially from your decision.

There are many paths you can take to make your business better, and there are times where making those investments make sense. As you evaluate opportunities though, always consider the source. It’s not a good deal if you don’t need it.

A version of this post was originally published in March 2017

Fine Tuning Your SEO Before Proposal Season

What your designer may have missed.

Design by    Rebecca Rose Events   . Photo by    Nancy Ray   .

Design by Rebecca Rose Events. Photo by Nancy Ray.

“Engagement season” refers to the period of time each year when the most wedding proposals happen. In the United States, it runs from Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November) until Valentine’s Day. For many other locations, it starts just a few weeks later, going from around Christmas to Valentine’s Day.

The most popular days for engagements are currently Christmas day, Valentine’s day, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day – in that order.

Just like most good publicists will start prepping and pitching their clients’ Christmas campaigns in early Summer, wedding pros’ prep for engagement/proposal season should ideally already be underway. However, if you, like almost every wedding business owner, have been juggling a zillion things, the next best time to start is now.

For the month of October, I’m going to be mostly discussing the things you can do get your business ready so that yours can be the company they most love once the ring is on their finger.

One of the most overlooked aspects of SEO is your website and blog’s photos. You’ve nailed the copy, you blog consistently, yet your photos may be named in a way that doesn’t help you get found by potential clients at all.

Since most brides and grooms will use Google to search for wedding pros to interview and for wedding ideas to add to Pinterest, your photos should be titled with the search terms that reflect what you do and what you want your brand to be known for.

To do this, think of the words a potential client would type into Google at the beginning of their search when they know nothing about wedding planning yet. Name your photos that. If you are focused on your local area, include local cities and landmarks. If you’re focused on destination weddings, include the far-flung places you’ve worked. Keep the titles short yet descriptive – don’t overstuff keywords and stay away from using industry jargon (“tablescape,” “creative partners,” “month of coordination,” etc.)

Photo titles that are beneficial for SEO:

  • blue and white wedding decorations (color combos get searched a ton, so pay attention to what is depicted in each photo you post)

  • affordable wedding venue in Houston

  • best wedding cake in Des Moines

  • romantic luxury resort for honeymoon in Capetown

  • modern wedding bouquet ideas (variations of ‘wedding ideas’ are popular search terms for Google, while variations of ‘wedding inspo’ get searched more on Instagram)

Photo titles that may be helpful for your behind-the-scenes organization, but are NOT beneficial for SEO:

  • IMG021418

  • JohnSally-106

  • rebrandheaderimage1

  • Headshot Color WebRes

  • ValentinesPromo2020

In many cases, you will need to rename your photos and re-upload them to your site in order to make the changes. You cannot just edit the alt text in Squarespace, Wordpress, Showit or whichever web software you use (though you should definitely fill these out, too!). If you had a web designer create your site, you should still double check that everything is good to go – many are not well-versed in SEO and may have overlooked your photos even though they optimized the rest.

Yes, this type of admin work can be tedious, but it’s not difficult, and it WILL be worth it.

Splendid Pro Tip: Once you’ve edited your photo titles and re-uploaded the images to your site, submit your pages to Google Search Console, part of Google Webmaster Tools. This will tell Google that you’ve made changes so they know to re-crawl and re-index your site, allowing your new terms to show up in search results more quickly.